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15 Votes

Rush to Dominate - Sniper Guide

December 20, 2012 by Kernell
Comments: 12    |    Views: 209037    |   


DotA2 Hero: Sniper

Hero Skills



2 4 8 9

Take Aim

1 3 5 7


6 11 16


10 12 13 14 15 17 18

Rush to Dominate - Sniper Guide

December 20, 2012


The Sniper is a late game hard carry who excels at annihilating his targets at vast range. His mini bash along with long range and a finisher ultimate gives him an incredible potential as a carry early to late game. However, he is very squishy and lacks escape utility along with movement speed, which makes him an attractive and easy target. Due to this fact sniper often becomes food for enemy heroes.

But we have a lot of utility items in Dota, right? Exploiting his capabilities to their maximum, boosting them properly and avoiding death is key to success . This guide will focus on one of multiple ways to reach success as a sniper.

About the Build

This is a personal build with focus on outfarming and outlasting your opponents by getting lethal relatively early in the game. This is achieved by acquiring Shadow Blade very early before anyone else has any useful items. By getting Shadow Blade first you will have a perfect chance to gank and stay alive throughout the early phase of the game and outfarm your enemies by actually killing them, not just farming creeps all the time like most people do. This build has been tested dozens of times in DotA and Dota 2 and it works perfectly if executed correctly.



This ability is completely useless in this build for the following reasons:
  • since you're getting Shadow Blade early you will need extra mana to be able to use it, not mentioning your ultimate. This ability will starve you out of mana pretty quickly
  • it does not do any reasonable damage and is easy to avoid
  • maxing this early will leave you either without extra range or headshots, which are utmost important for you to succeed
Stats > Shrapnel. Max this after level 21.


This is your core damaging (passive) ability with 40% chance to proc. Max this out right after extra range.

Take Aim:

Drastically increases your attack range. Maxing this out first will let you farm at a safe distance, harass and hunt down your enemies. You will outrange towers and any other hero with this maxed out.


Assassinate is your signature ability. Has 1.7s cast time and normal mana cost. Use it to finish off enemies at low health that are or will be out of your attack range in a while. It also reveals stealthed heroes, making it easier to counter assassins.


Your task for the first 10 minutes of the match is to farm like crazy. Last hit every single creep you can and make sure to stay alive. You will be doing this to acquire your main utility item. It is possible to achieve this within the given time lapse only in the middle of course.

Main item:

Shadow Blade - This is your main gank/escape utility item. You want to get this as soon as possible, preferably before 10 minutes into the match, ideally at 9:00 minutes. Getting it early will give you a perfect opportunity to kill: you can use it offensively after a bit of harassment and then finish off your target with your ultimate ability. If you're in trouble or about to be, use it to escape. Using Shadow Blade properly will let you quickly outfarm enemy team by killing their heroes and staying alive.

You mainly need Shadow Blade to kill during the early phase of the game while everyone is fragile.

Some may say this item is unreliable as it is relatively easy to counter with dust, gem or wards. While this is true to some extent, you still have no other option for an escape item, as Blink Dagger is even less reliable, and it doesn't give you extra offensive capability. Use it wisely!

Starting items:

I usually go with Slippers of Agility x1 to boost my damage a wee bit. Have to last hit a lot after all.

Healing Salve x1 and Tango x1 will let you stay alive longer and thus farm longer.

Some may ask why only 1 Healing Salve or 1 Tango. Or why only 1 Slippers of Agility and no Iron Branches, Magic Stick etc. The answer is simple: you need gold, and saving some in the very beginning will help you acquire Shadow Blade faster given that you are capable of last hitting with this starting setup. You save around 260 gold which equals to around 6 last hits. If you feel you need more damage to farm you may want to buy those Iron Branches and additional Slippers of Agility everyone's going after.

Early items:

Claymore, Boots of Speed and Shadow Amulet will be your starting items. It is advised to get Claymore first and Shadow Amulet second to form Shadow Blade, but if you feel you need additional movement speed to dodge Meat Hooks or retreat - buy Boots of Speed after Claymore. Or even before if need be. But remember, Shadow Blade is your first artifact and comes before Power Treads.

Don't waste your money on items like Wraith Band, Magic Wand, Poor Man's Shield, Ring of Aquila. It is a waste of gold because if you're doing everything right you will have Shadow Blade before 10:00 and Power Treads before 13:00. That will give you an advantage over practically any hero early in the game. Though, if you buy classic starting items you will have no gold to acquire your core items on time which leads to risk of being outfarmed by other carry heroes or getting ganked because you have no escape yet.

Core items:

Go for Crystalys right after Power Treads and build it into Daedalus after. You won't even notice how fast you can get this while you're on a killing spree. Daedalus will let you kill your enemies a lot faster than you usually do.

Mjollnir is your next major artifact. It gives you the haste you need and a powerful attack modifier called Chain Lightning, which causes 160 damage to 4 targets in a chain on proc. Note that this attack modifier is a proc, so you can freely use any other attack modifier item along with Mjollnir. Only one attack modifier may work at a time, so when Chain Lightning is triggered your other attack modifier will not work for that one hit when CL procced. So constant attack modifiers like that of Desolator will normally work with Mjollnir.

Next item in the build order is Desolator. It gives you extra 60 damage plus -6 armor to the target you hit. This item along with 2 previous ones makes you literally a killing machine, dropping your enemies in a blink of an eye. Considering you actually outfarmed them of course. If not, well, you are still effective enough.

Luxury or optional late game items:

Monkey King Bar - I personally prefer this over others because it's a considerable damage boost and True Strike: you never ever miss (except on heroes like Void), meaning you can attack targets on high ground from low ground along with any dodgy hero with no misses. Riki's smoke won't make you miss either.

Divine Rapier - additional 250 damage. It drops on death and can be picked up by enemy heroes, so if you buy this - stay alive. Its effect is incredible though.

Butterfly - I wouldn't recommend buying it, but sometimes you need that dodge chance. So go after it only if you need dodge.

Manta Style - creates 2 illusions of yourself that deal 28% of your damage and take 350% increased damage, resulting in roughly 50% damage increase. That's a lot, plus it gives you some movement speed and extra stats, which is awesome for Sniper. One of the best options.

Situational items:

Black King Bar is one of them. If you're getting annihilated by heroes like Tinker, Lion, Lina etc or facing a lot of magic crowd control this item is your best bet. Use it wisely and go for rampage.

Ghost Scepter is the item you can use to avoid nasty physical attackers like Lifestealer for example. Don't buy it if you face angry mages.


Rule number one. To execute this build and gameplay associated with it you go middle.

Early in the game your main objective is FARM. Once you have Shadow Blade and Boots of Speed your main objective changes to KILL and farm when you don't have an opportunity to kill.

Solo mid:

Last hit every single enemy creep you possibly can without getting killed. This is your formula:

Survive > Last Hit > Deny >= Harass

Don't forget to watch the lanes for missing heroes while you farm/harass your opponent in the middle. It is essential for you to survive. Also, if you have an opportunity, control the runes. Sometimes runes like Rune of Haste, Rune of Invisibility, Rune of Double Damage may be the death of you. Or your team mates.

If you're put up against Pudge high position awareness is required. You are pretty much dead if you get hooked, so make sure it doesn't happen. Don't stand in one place for too long with Pudge out of sight. Oh and try dodging those hooks as best you can.

Stay middle until you get Shadow Blade and preferably Boots of Speed. This should happen at or before 11 minutes into the match. However, in case of unforseen circumstances go help your team mates to finish off a wounded foe or gank the gankers.

After laning is over:

Go out there and help your team mates fight off the enemies. Harass your targets from afar, attack them out of Shadow Blade whenever it is safe and finish enemies that run away with Assassinate.

It is preferable for you to engage in team fights and not go alone against multiple foes as it may be dangerous. Be aware of enemy's inventories, watch out for Dust of Appearance, Sentry Ward, Gem of True Sight. It is very common to counter Shadow Blade with Dust of Appearance, so if you see someone with that item try to stay away from them when alone, usually these heroes either serve as baits and appear alone to directly attack you or move within a group of 2 or more heroes. Don't get caught unawares!

Don't wait too long before destroying towers. Do it at once when you have a possibility. Your goal is to outfarm your opponents and finish the game as soon as possible. You can gank them in fountain as long as their Ancient will hold if you execute everything right.

Your role as a sniper:

Your main role is doing damage. A lot of it. Survival may be given the same status.

Your secondary role is finishing off fleeing and wounded heroes that nobody can get to.

And as anyone else's responsibility - participate in team fights after the laning phase is over.

So farm, kill, survive, be a team player.

Items You Don't Need

Sange and Yasha - don't waste your time and gold on this, as you don't need it. This item would only take up space in your inventory - there are far better items out there. Movement speed and stats are easily compensated with Manta Style, which also gives you extra 50% damage from illusions.

Vanguard - costs a lot, gives you extra hardiness and health regeneration. Alas, you don't need this item because buying it will delay you from getting must-have items and take up space in your tight backpack.

Assault Cuirass - you don't want this item for the same reason as the ones above, plus it gives you less haste than Mjollnir and you will already have -armor from Desolator. Snipers don't need armor, they need stealth, damage and attack speed.

Mask of Madness - this item gives you attack speed and lifesteal, and at the same time makes you even more vulnerable than you already are. You don't want it because you will have enough haste with Mjollnir and you do need that Desolator attack modifier for extra lethality. Lifesteal proves to be useless for snipers as they are way too squishy to even go for health regeneration.

Helm of the Dominator and Satanic are avoided because you don't need lifesteal attack modifiers and they are expensive and take up inventory space.

Every other item not mentioned in any section of this guide is considered useless for this very build.

Your Counters

Pudge - you are a target #1 for him to hook and dismember. Always be aware of his and your position.

Lifestealer - this hero is pretty much everyone's counter is farmed. Don't let him farm (by killing him)!

Spirit Breaker - you are a target #1 for him as well. He will stalk you with Charge of Darkness and try to kill you with his ultimate. Watch out for him.

Tinker - this guy has a lot of burst and will surely take his chances to one shot you. Stay out of his range or let him focus on someone else first.

Bounty Hunter - this assassin has a decent burst out of stealth and can chase you with the help of his ultimate even when you're invisible. Have some wards, dust or stay at a safe distance from places where he can potentially gank you.

Riki - it's difficult to get out of his smoke cloud, and he usually has diffusal blade to make it even harder. Again have some dust/gem with you or play safe.

Anti-Mage - don't let this guy farm by killing him and try to finish the game before he gets farmed. He will blink to you and burn your mana, don't let him get close.

Dust of Appearance - watch out for heroes with this item in their backpack, since you're a heavy Shadow Blade addict you have to avoid getting killed while invisible.

Gem of True Sight - simply stay out of carrier's sight and force your team to gank him.

Sentry Ward is something you should try to spot. Don't go nuts on them alone while on sentry ward territory.


Thanks to Nova and Atlas for their interesting and nicely formatted guides. My formatting was inspired by them.

Please rate and comment. Constructive criticism is very welcome!

Thank you for reading.

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